The New York State Health Research Science Board (HRSB) appreciates the opportunity to work for the citizens of New York State to support critical biomedical and educational research in breast cancer. The HRSB looks forward to continued progress and success in achieving its mandates. The composition of the HRSB models the importance of cooperation between New York researchers, physicians, and breast cancer survivors.
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Douglas S. Conklin, Ph.D., Chair
Beverly Canin, Member
Jeanette Dippo, R.N., M.S., Member
Donald Distasio, Member
Adrian Krainer, Ph.D., Member
Diana E. Lake, M.D., Member
Annette T. Lee, Ph.D., Member
Randa Maher, Member
Regina Resta, M.D., Member
Erasmus Schneider, Ph.D., Member
James L. Speyer, M.D., Member
James V. McDonald M.D., M.P.H., Ex-officio Member
Basil Seggos, Ex-officio Member
Douglas Conklin, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Biomedical Sciences at the University at Albany School of Public Health, Gen*NY*Sis Center for Excellence in Cancer Genomics. He received a Ph.D. in Cellular and Molecular Biology at the University of Wisconsin at Madison in 1993 and in 1997 completed a postdoctoral training fellowship on Cancer Genetics at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.
His laboratory studies the functional genomics of cellular proliferation in human cells. Specifically, they are looking at the relationship between cellular fat metabolism and breast cancer and are studying redox regulation of cell cycle progression. The group has identified several genes that are required for the survival of breast cancer cells that were previously unknown to play roles in cancer.
Dr. Conklin began serving the Health Research Science Board in 2012 and was appointed Chairman of the Board in 2013.
Beverly Canin is a two-time breast cancer survivor. She is president of Breast Cancer Options, Inc., a survivor-driven, community-based breast cancer support, education, and advocacy organization in the Mid-Hudson Valley. She is a graduate of the National Breast Cancer Coalition's (NBCC) Project Leadership, Education, Advocacy, Development or LEAD. She participates annually in the NBCC's Advocacy Training Conference and Lobby Day in Washington, D.C. Ms. Canin is the alternate representative from Breast Cancer Options, Inc. to the Board of Directors of the New York State Breast Cancer Network, and the New York State Breast Cancer Support and Education Network, where she has chaired the Procedures Committee and is a member of the Access to Care Committee.
Ms. Canin has served as a consumer reviewer for the U.S. Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program since 2001 at both the peer review and the programmatic review levels. She also has worked as an advocate reviewer for the California Breast Cancer Research Program. She is a member of Breast Cancer Action and of the Mid-Hudson Valley affiliate chapter of Sisters' Network, Inc.
Ms. Canin is retired, after having worked many years in non-profit administration, including as a consultant for program development and evaluation.
Ms. Canin began serving the Health Research Science Board in 2008.
Ms. Dippo served for almost 38 years as the coordinator of the award-winning Cortland City School District's Health Education and Wellness Program. Just prior to retirement in 2004, she successfully completed the American Cancer Society's five-year National School Health Coordinator Leadership Institute representing New York State and was Program Coordinator for the NYS Healthy Schools Leadership Institute.
In her community, Ms. Dippo was a featured breast cancer survivor for a breast cancer awareness billboard encouraging mammograms. This project was funded by an Avon Foundation Breast Cancer Grant with the Cortland Family YWCA and County Health Department. She also has been a speaker for a series of Sunday breast cancer prevention brunches hosted by local churches.
As a trained peer leader, Ms. Dippo has recently delivered the Stanford University Chronic Disease Self-Management Program and collected data from community participants using the standard data tools provided by the NYS Evidence-Based Health Programs Quality and Technical Assistance Center.
Ms. Dippo continues to work with the NYS Cancer Services Program of Cortland and Tompkins Counties as a liaison to SUNY Cortland where she had been an adjunct instructor of health for over ten years. Her recent projects include policy changes in breast, cervical, prostate, and colorectal cancer and tobacco use prevention and control. She serves as a member of the college's Tobacco Advisory Committee. Since 2001, Ms. Dippo has continuously served on the New York State Tobacco Use Prevention and Control Advisory Board.
Ms. Dippo was appointed to Health Research Science Board service in 2014.
Donald Distasio is a former executive with the American Cancer Society (ACS). He retired in September 2013 as the Chief Executive Officer of the ACS Eastern Division after 41 years. During his tenure, the ACS Eastern Division raised $100 million a year with over 600 employees.
Hope Lodge® offers cancer patients and their caregivers lodging when their best hope for effective treatment may be in another city. Under Mr. Distasio's leadership, Hope Lodges were developed in locations throughout the state. Hope Lodges were built in NYC and Rochester, NY, a Hope Lodge in Buffalo, NY was refurbished, and the ACS took over the Gilda's Club in Albany, NY. In addition, his work on the ACS mission included: working with the NYS DOH on the first breast/cervical cancer screening program, CEOs Against Cancer, Coaches vs. Cancer, The Asian Initiatives, Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, ACS Research Team and advocacy work in New York and New Jersey. He also devoted his career to patient care through the ACS call center and patient navigation programs.
Mr. Distasio has served on numerous boards including the American Academy of Family Physicians, the National Society of Association Executives, and 34th Street Partnership. He is also involved in Rotary, NYS Cancer Plan, the NYS Cancer Prevention Council and the National Executive Retired Service.
Mr. Distasio grew up in Brooklyn, NY attending Bishop Fort High School. He received his degree from Indiana State University. He attended the Indiana University Nonprofit Executive Leadership Program.
Mr. Distasio began serving the Health Research Science Board in 2015.
Adrian Krainer, Ph.D. is the St. Giles Foundation Professor at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL), and Deputy Director of Research of the NCI-Designated CSHL Cancer Research Center. He received a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Harvard University in 1986, followed by postdoctoral research at CSHL.
His research focuses on the mechanisms and regulation of mRNA splicing, and how splicing dysregulation contributes to cancer and genetic diseases, as well as on the preclinical development of antisense therapeutics. One notable success was the development of nusinersen (Spinraza), in collaboration with Ionis Pharmaceuticals and Biogen, as the first approved drug for spinal muscular atrophy. The group has worked on the role of splicing dysregulation in breast, skin, pancreatic, liver, brain, and blood cancers, and is currently developing targeted antisense therapeutics for hepatocellular carcinoma and midline glioma.
Dr. Krainer is a co-founder, director, and chair of the SAB of Stoke Therapeutics. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine, the National Academy of Inventors, and the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. He is a recipient of the Life Sciences Breakthrough Prize, the Lifetime Achievement Award of the RNA Society, the International Prize in Translational Neuroscience, the Bennett Brandwein Award for Genetics Research, the Benett Award of the American Neurological Association, the Speiser Award in Pharmaceutical Sciences, the Ross Prize in Molecular Medicine, the Takeda Pharmaceuticals Innovators in Science Award, and the Wolf Prize in Medicine.
He was appointed to Health Research Science Board service in 2021.
Dr. Lake is a medical oncologist with a practice that is devoted solely to the care of breast cancer patients. Her research interests involve all areas of breast cancer but focus mainly on the development of new therapies, prevention of cancer recurrence following surgery, and treatment of recurrent disease. Working in conjunction with her colleagues on the Breast Cancer Medicine Service at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and as the liaison in breast medicine to the Alliance Cooperative Group, (a national clinical trial cooperative research group sponsored by the National Cancer Institute,) she is involved in clinical trials to develop better hormonal therapies and improved approaches to treatment before surgery. In addition, she is a past member of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Scientific Review Committee, and previously served on the NIH Cooperative Group Review and its Cancer Education committees.
Dr. Lake began serving the Health Research Science Board in 2009.
Dr. Annette T. Lee graduated from Northeastern University and received her Ph.D. from The Rockefeller University. As an associate investigator and director of the Laboratory of Translational Genetics at The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, she has established her own area of research investigating the genetics of cancer – including chronic lymphocytic leukemia, breast and ovarian cancers.
Dr. Lee has directed the sample genotyping for several large autoimmune genome-wide association studies to identify risk genes for rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis), scleroderma, alopecia areata, IgA deficiency, myasthenia gravis and myositis. All of these studies have either resulted in publications in high profile journals or are in the process of being analyzed for manuscript submission. As a follow up to genome-wide studies, she has also supervised the selection and development of targeted genetic studies which range from a few variants to dense mapping of over 12,000 SNPs for several autoimmune diseases, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, diabetic nephropathy and asthma. Several key genetic variants associated with human diseases have been identified as a direct result of these studies. More recently she has begun to study biomarkers of breast and ovarian cancers.
Dr. Lee has co-authored almost 100 peer-reviewed papers. Together with her collaborators throughout the Northwell Health enterprise, she has established a biobank of breast and ovarian tissue samples for research. Together with Dr Iuliana Shapira, Dr. Lee was honored at the Moms Who Kick 2012 Gala held at The Garden City Hotel for their research in breast cancer. Dr. Lee and Dr. Shapira were featured in the December 2012 televised series of Medical Updates.
Dr. Lee began serving the Health Research Science Board in 2016.
Randa D. Maher is a lawyer and partner in the law firm of Maher & Pittell, LLP, located in Great Neck, New York. She has been practicing law since 1988. From 1988-1990, she served as an Assistant District Attorney in Kings County, New York, before leaving to join a Nassau County law firm where she specialized primarily in environmental law. Much of her work involved litigation and compliance issues arising from the contamination of ground water and soil due to oil spills and/or leaking underground storage tanks.
In 1995, she was appointed to the Appeals Panel for the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit pursuant to the Criminal Justice Act. In 2014, she was appointed to the Habeas Corpus panels of the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York. Her practice currently focuses on criminal litigation and appeals in both the New York State and federal courts.
Ms. Maher is a breast cancer survivor and serves as Vice President of Advocacy for the Great Neck Breast Cancer Coalition. She is also a member of numerous professional organizations including the National Association of Professional Women, the New York State and Nassau County Bar Associations, the Queens County and Nassau County Women’s Bar Associations and YASHAR--the attorneys’ and judges’ chapter of Hadassah Women’s Organization.
Ms. Maher earned a Bachelor of Arts degree at Rutgers College in 1982, a Master of Arts degree at New York University in 1986, and a law degree at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in 1987.
Ms. Maher began serving the Health Research Science Board in 2016.
Regina Resta, M.D. is a practicing medical oncologist with New York Oncology Hematology, P.C. in Troy, New York. She received her medical degree from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and has been in practice for 30 years.
Dr. Resta began serving the Health Research Science Board in 2015.
Dr. Erasmus Schneider joined the Wadsworth Center in 1995 as a research scientist when he established an externally funded research program to investigate multidrug resistance of cancer cells. This research resulted in numerous peer-reviewed publications and presentations at major conferences. Over the years he continued to work in the area of cancer cell drug resistance, expanding into drugs targeting the folate pathway and DNA precursor synthesis. He was a grant reviewer for the American Cancer Society and currently is a member of its Council for Extramural Research.
From 2007 to 2013 Dr. Schneider was the director of the Center’s Division of Translational Medicine, and from 2013 to 2021 assumed the role as the Center’s Associate Director for Research and Technology. In that role he directed the Center’s scientific core facilities and internal research funding programs. In particular, he guided the Advanced Genomics Technology Cluster and the Bioinformatics core to provide Next Generation Sequencing for public health investigations and surveillance.
Dr. Schneider was also the section head for Oncology in the Clinical Laboratory Reference System. In that position he was responsible for the review of laboratory developed tests submitted by NYS permitted laboratories in the area of Oncology.
He is particularly interested in the technical and quality control challenges posed by the advanced molecular techniques used for the diagnosis, prognosis and prediction of therapeutic response of cancer. He was appointed to Health Research Science Board service in 2021.
Dr. James Speyer is a Professor of Medicine at the New York University School of Medicine and is the Associate Director for Strategic Planning, Network Development and Public Affairs of the Perlmutter Cancer Center at the NYU Langone Medical Center.
Dr. Speyer joined NYU in 1980 after completing Medical School at Johns Hopkins, Internal Medicine training at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital and fellowships in Hematology and Oncology at Columbia Presbyterian and the National Cancer Institute.
Dr. Speyer has served many roles at NYU including founding Medical Director of the NYU Clinical Cancer Center from 2004-2013. He currently chairs the Protocol Review and Monitoring Committee of the Perlmutter Cancer Institute. He specializes in breast cancer and gynecologic cancer. His research interests have included breast cancer, ovarian cancer and cardioprotection against anthracycline therapy.
Dr. Speyer serves on the boards of SHARE and the Eastern Division of the American Cancer Society. He was appointed to Health Research Science Board service in 2014.
Basil Seggos was appointed as Ex-Officio Member to the Health Research Science Board in 2022 by Governor Kathy Hochul. He is the New York State Commissioner of Environmental Conservation. More information about the DEC Commissioner can be found at this website: https://www.dec.ny.gov/about/243.html.